Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Polly Want a Crackup
George W. Bush usually sounds like a parrot who has trouble remembering his lines, but he's rarely sounded less lucid than yesterday, when he talked about how we will stay the course in Iraq and how our resolve will not be weakened by the attacks around Fallujah--and how we will prove that by sticking to our June 30th timetable for handing sovereignty over to the Iraqis. This is neither more nor less loony than if he'd stood up and announced that two plus two equals five. Never mind that the Fallujah uprising and the sight of Iraqi security forces abandoning their posts are Exhibits A and B for why now is not the time to remove the only fairly steady hand that exists over there--ours. Never mind that the outlawing of a prominent cleric is likely to contribute to what looks like an inevitable civil war if he's not caught by June 30. We have to get out of there--so Bush can pose with returning soldiers in time for the summer campaign season.

And never mind the highly weird spectacle of people opposed to the Iraq war in the first place, like me, arguing that we have to stay there. But we clearly do, lest things go from bad to worse. But things may go from already pretty bad to even worse before we leave, if the current operations around Fallujah are any indication. As I observed Friday, our promise of massive retaliation against the killers of four American mercenaries--and the fact that we're urging civilians in the area to keep out of sight during Operation Vigilant Resolve--seems to indicate that we mean to kill everything that moves around Fallujah and let God sort 'em out. Which would be staggeringly popular in Bush Country, while only adding to the free-floating, best-laid-plans-complicating, hatred of Americans that already exists in Iraq. Naomi Klein is in Baghdad reporting for The Nation, and she found recently that it's not exclusively hardcore terrorist types who hate us--it's also businesspeople who are supposed to benefit from the occupation and the new Iraq. Klein's article is positively prescient in that it had to have been filed before recent events surrounding Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, but it mentions him prominently--thus providing a bit more context to the stories involving his activities over the last few days.

One hand giveth and the other taketh away: The Bush Administration would like to relax rules that (supposedly) prohibit churches from overtly endorsing political candidates and engaging in other political activities. But at the same time, the Federal Election Commission is considering rules that would drastically effect the rights of other nonprofit organizations to engage in political advocacy. To call the proposed rules draconian is to be kind--they would decimate the ability of nonprofits to engage in political activity. The FEC is soliciting public comments on the proposed regs until this Friday. People for the American Way has more on the regulations and their possible effects. You can also fax your own comments to the FEC with a few clicks.

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